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Tuesday, October 8, 2013


These days’ elections often aren't over until they're over.

While we were hoping the next post would be about the borough wide results of last Tuesday's election (insert eye roll for those that didn't know there was an election)  the official count is still in the hands of the hardworking borough canvassing board.

So who is the Canvassing Board you ask? 

The Canvassing Board falls under the purview of the Clerk's Office. This in itself is a huge relief. Our head almost explodes at the thought of the this process falling under the micro managing finger of the assembly that if what to do with a ferry is any gauge of their abilities to make decisions would make the results of this election be available about the fall of 2020.

But the borough clerk and her department are on it. This is not their first trip to the election rodeo. There is a process that is embedded in borough code. Their job is to certify the validity of the absentee, questioned, and poll votes cast. The Clerk knows the value of picking a seasoned group of election officials from the pool that are hired to run the election. It's pretty clear the group she has selected knows this process completely.

They have been meeting daily in the old assembly chambers which are presently set up for this activity. One member of the public designated by a candidate is able to attend after taking a oath of confidentiality (sometimes personal information is discussed while debating the eligibility of a vote or voter) to view the work of the board.

Watching this process to see what happens to our vote after they are mailed, cast early in person or fed into the Diebold voting machines (which we are not alone in having concerns about) the day of the election has been enlightening.

The first thing that is striking the difference in watching the canvassing board operate in the old assembly chambers in contrast to how the assembly operated before they relocated to the school district to await their new fancy chambers (thank you property taxpayers) which will host it's first assembly meeting and hopefully swearing of new members next Tuesday, October 15th. 

When the assembly spending hounds filled the room: 

  • Made up by a majority of members of the good ol' boy network that are interested in mostly their own self-interest. 
  • Always busy scatter shooting, waffling, punting issues like costs and consequences down the road or assigning blame to whoever wasn't there to defend themselves or some "liberal or environmental" boogeyman. 
  • Few attempts made to really follow or improve procedures or hold each other accountable. Abundance of decision making done out of the public purview. 

On the other hand the Canvassing Board:

  • Is made up of a spirited public team of WOMEN with a public interest goal. 
  • Scheduled and deadline orientated their process is very black and white. 
  • With laser like attention they make efficient use of the public resources letting a set of procedures of checks and balances guide them.  
  • The board is observable and document decisions only after consulting written references and considering the clerk's expertise. 
  • There is no one on the canvas board texting or receiving a text to tell them what to do. 
  • There is no one standing in the hall trying to influence their decisions.
  • There is no one complaining about smaller government, federal government over-reach or the evil EPA.

The canvassing board isn't about egos, special interest, or future political careers. They are there to do a serious job thoroughly and thoughtfully. The whole process is reflective of the borough clerk as one of her most important duties of her job. She and her staff are watchful over the process but not imposing and do their jobs without running any interference or influence. They are professional. They are just public citizens doing a task they have been hired and trusted to do the best of their abilities.

Meanwhile in the rest of election land...

Election night results than what was reported for the cities didn't change a whole lot. The final tallies can be found on each city website which you will find a link to on the side of the blog. In another phenomenally low voter turnout election, voters cherry picked candidates in most cases and there wasn't any huge surprises.

A ballot measure that passed in WASILLA  allows funding to move forward on a new public library even though it was closer than the hair on a hedgehog on election night. The mail in and absentee votes pushed it safely over the goal posts.This is a huge step forward to the reality of a new library that many in the city has been pining for with a small increase in sales tax paving the way. 

What wasn't close was the race between Councilman Brandon Wall and desperately seeking redemption retread candidate Vic Kohring who thanks to a 306 vote loss will have much more time to write his long, rambling "Oh the injustice of it all" letters to the editor. Vic's voters can put their tin hats and bibles back on their side table by the lazy boy and go back to watching Glenn Beck cry crocodile tears.

HOUSTON had no surprises. Voters declined to roll back sales tax on the sales on fireworks by a safe margin. The city runs on diet plan that would make the founders of Weigh Watchers envious. It makes us wonder if even the owners of the 1/4 mile of firework stands know without bringing revenue to the table in the City of Houston there would leave little reason to host such business. Pretty sure folks that have spare cash in their pockets for fireworks and are on a mission to see things blow up care little about a few pennies that find their way in the city coffers.

PALMER'S largely civilized race for mayor resulted in no changes with voters re-electing  DeLena Johnson their city leader by even a larger margin than her first term.  City Council candidate Steve Carrington with a minimal campaign effort did upset long-time council woman Katherine Vanover who has spent the last 12 years on the council. 

We were hopeful this would bring a much needed change to the City of Palmer City Council but after watching the same political gymnastics that has plagued the council for the last year at a simple swearing in we are less hopeful. A ordinary request from the mayor to appoint seasoned councilman Ken Erby (often the voice of reason and one who keeps his distance from political jousting) Deputy Mayor was met with objection from the council. Instead newly elected Councilman Steve Carrington was given the nod for no good reason that we could see besides it wasn't the mayor's choice. We have great hopes for Carrington who has some past experience on the council but we find it unfair and unnecessary to bring him into the fray when he barely was able to get his feet under the chair that he was just elected too. Was it done in the better interest of the people of Palmer? Seems unlikely.  Was Erby the councilman nominated by the mayor more versed in current Palmer issues? We think so. 

Hats off to Representative Shelly Hughes attending the swearing in and invited to speak that gave some very good advice to the council about making a better effort for the council to get along for the sake of the people of Palmer. .We hope the council listened. Hughes should know a thing or two about getting along with a variety of elected officials. 

This shouldn't be hard to understand. 

Several Palmer Council members need to put down their spears and future office aspirations in their wing of a political party (we're looking at you Council members Best and DeVries) and get on with doing what is best for the people they are elected to represent in Palmer. There may be members on the council that don't like the outcome of the voters wish but that's the way city democracy rolls. As for the other council members participating in this nonsense by their votes, you don't have to be the one with the spear in your hand to be just as culpable as those throwing it. So far your feeble attempts to resist being part of the problem aren't very convincing.  Just stop it and try using the example of the borough canvassing board listed above. 

We will sort out the borough election results when that work is done. We need to spend a little time on the fainting couch first.